With economic uncertainty making flexibility more important than ever, digital fitness can help you strengthen your business for the future. Therefore, it is perhaps unsurprising that more SMEs in Wales turned to technology last year as an attempt to sustain and grow their businesses as questions about Brexit continue.
The technology companies embracing this and allowing them to be resilient are becoming increasingly apparent if you follow Cardiff Business School's Wales Economy Research Unit Digital Maturity Survey. The project has run for three years and looks back at what is happening across the digital landscape of Wales year on year. Cardiff University has just revealed the 2018 results.
The report shows how digital is helping to ease the heavy burden placed on business owners and staff alike to streamline resources to enable companies to focus on growing. And increasingly the results are positive. Welsh businesses are more able to employ people, with twice as many SMEs reporting higher employment in 2018 than the previous year, and more than half of businesses using superfast broadband have seen increased profits.
Superfast broadband is now mainstream and Welsh companies are starting to implant online tools at the heart of their businesses. It is therefore fitting that Cardiff University has hosted an event for experts, policy makers and businesses to explore how digital technology is being used in Wales. One of the success stories of Accelerate Wales for Business, Hazelwood Carpentry, took part in the event.
How digitally fit are you?
More Welsh SMEs than ever are using digital to sustain and grow their businesses, as companies from all sectors see growing evidence that moving online is beneficial.
Digital fitness in Wales is being steered from the North and South East into the Mid and West, where almost half of businesses now employ in-house specialists to help get them in good shape. This reach goes beyond regions and into sectors, where there is an increase in SMEs using online tools to manage specific parts of their business. For example, Allen & Partners, a Carmarthenshire-based veterinary practice, has already saved its staff significant time by installing a practice management system designed specifically for vets.
Wales' traditional sectors are now embracing digital to better manage their business, with SMEs in construction showing the biggest increase in digital approaches in 2018.
Construction companies in Wales have increased their use of digital in the past year, with the number of businesses using websites, social media and specialist systems (such as accounting and project management software) all increasing. Construction companies have also discovered how to use digital to push sales, with more than half selling online last year, up 64% from 2017.
If you want to incorporate digital into your day-to-day processes, choosing the right software for your business is essential. Our Software Essentials directory can help you find software you can rely on, whatever you need.
Four in five SMEs in Wales recognise the importance of digital in meeting customer demands, with one in five already benefiting from the productivity of CRM systems.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems give you the ability to convert 'potential interest 'into a consistent business through a managed sales cycle. By keeping track of customers, you can identify who to target and help grow your business. 20% of Welsh SMEs already do this, which means there's a huge opportunity to get ahead of your competitors by turning your customer relationships digital. We run CRM workshops across Wales to help you make the most of the CRM system and keep your customers' data safe.